Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacific Island Literatures

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9780824834722: Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacific Island Literatures

Routes and Roots is the first comparative study of Caribbean and Pacific Island literatures and the first work to bring indigenous and diaspora literary studies together in a sustained dialogue. Taking the "tidalectic" between land and sea as a dynamic starting point, Elizabeth DeLoughrey foregrounds geography and history in her exploration of how island writers inscribe the complex relation between routes and roots. The first section looks at the sea as history in literatures of the Atlantic middle passage and Pacific Island voyaging, theorizing the transoceanic imaginary. The second section turns to the land to examine indigenous epistemologies in nation-building literatures. Both sections are particularly attentive to the ways in which the metaphors of routes and roots are gendered, exploring how masculine travelers are naturalized through their voyages across feminized lands and seas. This methodology of charting transoceanic migration and landfall helps elucidate how theories and people travel, positioning island cultures in the world historical process. In fact, DeLoughrey demonstrates how these tropical island cultures helped constitute the very metropoles that deemed them peripheral to modernity.

Routes and Roots moves beyond restrictive national, colonial, and regional frameworks and makes a compelling argument to foreground how island histories are shaped by geography. It offers an innovative and interdisciplinary approach that places postcolonial islands in a dialogue with each other as well as with their continental counterparts, engaging with writers such as Kamau Brathwaite, Derek Walcott, John Hearne, Epeli Hau`ofa, Albert Wendt, Keri Hulme, Jamaica Kincaid, and Michelle Cliff. Overall, this book navigates uncharted spaces in postcolonial studies by historicizing the ways in which indigenous discourses of landfall have mitigated and contested productions of transoceanic diaspora. The result is a powerful argument for a type of postcolonial sovereignty that is global in scope yet rooted in indigenous knowledge of the land.

Fresh in its ideas, original in its approach, Routes and Roots engages broadly with history, anthropology, and feminist, postcolonial, Caribbean, and Pacific literary and cultural studies. It productively traverses diaspora and indigenous studies in a way that will facilitate broader discussion between these often segregated disciplines.

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From the Back Cover:

In this first comparative study of Caribbean and Pacific Island literature, Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey invokes the cyclical model of the continual movement and rhythm of the ocean ("tidalectics") to destabilize the national, ethnic, and even regional frameworks that have been the mainstays of literary study. The result is a privileging of alter/native epistemologies whereby island cultures are positioned where they should have been all along--at the forefront of the world historical process of transoceanic migration and landfall. The research, determination, and intellectual dexterity that infuse this nuanced and meticulous reading of Pacific and Caribbean literature invigorate and deepen our interest in and appreciation of island literature. --Vilsoni Hereniko, Professor, Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai`i.

About the Author:

Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey is an associate professor of postcolonial literatures in the Department of English at Cornell University. She is coeditor of Caribbean Literature and the Environment: Between Nature and Culture, published in 2005.

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